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Just How Close Are the Redskins From Being Contenders?

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Mark Tyler explains how the Redskins really aren’t that close at all.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Team President Bruce Allen seems to feel the Redskins are “close” to contending. The fan base obviously feels differently. This is not at all uncommon though, as the fan’s views rarely align with those of the front office.

In this piece, I’d like to take a look from a fan’s perspective at just how close we may be, and what we could do to get there.


Quarterback:

The quarterback position, without a doubt, is the most important position on the football field, yet this is one of the most obvious missing pieces on this franchise. And despite actually trying to secure a franchise signal caller in the recent past, the Redskins have struck out swinging...but at least they have swung!

Without a competent signal caller, this team will get no where. Sure we may win a few games with a veteran like Case Keenum or Colt McCoy under center, but that is not sustainable for the future of this franchise.

Fan are divided between the first round options in 2019, the middle round developmental prospects this year, and stinking it up in 2019 to get a high draft choice to spend on a QB in 2020.

My view is that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and if a top QB prospect falls to #15, you have to take and develop that player. I’m not a fan of trading up, nor are most die-hard followers, but if the right people in the organization feel it’s prudent, and the price is not ridiculous, I guess it could be viewed as positive is some regards.

The players in contention for the Redskins in the first round of this year’s draft are Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones.

There is also the option that Josh Rosen will become available via a trade if the Cardinals decide Kyler Murray is their guy in the draft. If so, the Redskins should definitely sniff around at least to see what the asking price would be.


Wide Receiver:

If quarterback is clearly number one on this list, offensive playmakers has to be number two!

The Redskins are CLEARLY in the bottom three in the NFL when it comes to playmakers on the outside. The departure of Jamison Crowder(the team’s top receiver) in free agency puts even more pressure on the front office to upgrade the position this offseason.

The NFL draft is clearly where it’s at for this upgrade.

Round two is loaded at wide receiver, and the Redskins sit nicely at pick 46 to take a playmaker to help whatever quarterback is under center this season.

The following prospects would be massive upgrades to the hodge-podge we currently have at the receiver position.

A.J. Brown

N’Keal Harry

Hakeem Butler

Deebo Samule

Riley Ridley

Kelvin Harmon

Parris Campbell

Terry McLaurin

The team may even want to double-dip and draft another receiver with a later pick - that’s how dire the need for receiver is.


EDGE:

The loss of Preston Smith in free agency and the aging Ryan Kerrigan make EDGE rusher a big priority. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Kerrigan to retire anytime soon, but we can’t expect him to play at a high level forever.

A EDGE who is capable of converting speed to power is needed, and the Skins can’t count on reserve Ryan Anderson to do that opposite Kerrigan. There is still a chance they take a shot on a free agent like Shane Ray on a one year prove-it type deal, but this draft class is very talented at EDGE, and if quarterback is not the pick in round one, EDGE would be a great alternative.

Some players the Skins could consider early in this draft are:

Brian Burns

Montez Sweat

Clelin Ferrell

Jachai Polite

Jaylon Ferguson


Left Guard:

Left guard has been a weakness along the offensive line for some time now. The Redskins seem set at all the other positions(baring injury), but the older veteran approach at filling the spot has not worked.

The signing of Ereck Flowers, who will be 25, to compete on the interior was interesting, and in my humble opinion, is a low-risk, high-reward type signing. He’s been a massive disappointment at offensive tackle, but if he can re-focus his attention on becoming an interior guy, and learn from Bill Callahan how to be a professional, we all may be pleasantly surprised.

Even if Flowers does work out at the position(which sources have already said he’ll be tried at), the Redskins still need to address the spot in the draft.

The third round of this year’s draft boasts some versatile prospects who could fit very well in the Redskins system:

Elgton Jenkins

Erik McCoy

Conner McGovern

Michael Deiter

Beau Benzschawel

Nate Davis

Ben Powers

Michael Jordan

Ryan Bates


ILB:

Inside linebacker still remains a need, although the availability of Reuben Foster could significantly change that. Foster, who is still on the Commissioners Exempt List while the league concludes their independent investigation into domestic abuse accusations(in which charges were dropped by the state), could be a welcome addition to a unit lacking speed and playmaking ability. Most suspect a suspension will be handed out - just how long of a suspension is the question.

Foster’s former Alabama teammate Shaun Dion Hamilton played well in the second half of 2018, and his ability to call the defense and play sideline-to-sideline could see him as a fixture of this unit for years to come.

If the Redskins do want to upgrade the position early in the 2019 NFL Draft, they could hope LSU star linebacker Devin White falls to pick 15 or reach a bit for Michigan’s Devin Bush.

It’s also likely that the Skins feel comfortable with Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Mason Foster and Josh Harvey-Clemons.


Tight End:

Every year around this time, we as fans speculate about the future of Jordan Reed with this team. Every season, we see no changes to our roster when the season opens and Reed is trotted out to his normal spot. And, every year, his season ends with on IR for some ailment.

Soon, the team is going to have to move in a different direction at the position.

It also highly likely that the Redskins could choose to move on from Vernon Davis sooner than later. He’s fought him off for some time now, but Father Time has definitely caught up.

Tight end may not seem like a top need, but it’s certainly A need. The NFL Draft right now seems like the best spot to grab one.


Defensive Back:

The Redskins made a splash by signing free agent safety Landon Collins this March. His arrival fills the void left from the departed D.J. Swearinger, and for the first time in a long time gives the team a serious presence on the back end.

There are some question marks however alongside Collins. Montae Nicholson had some off-field troubles, and his future right now is a bit cloudy. There are still some good safeties in free agency, and the Skins have some time if they still want to add to the position before the draft.

At corner, there are a lot of bodies, but not a ton of veteran leadership. Josh Norman is getting older and his play as of late has not been stellar. There are some rumors that the team may want to move on from the high-priced vet and draft his successor this year.

Behind Norman, there are a lot of question marks. Dunbar has great skills, but a nerve issue to his lower leg ended his season prematurely last year, and the team hopes this will not be an issue moving forward - but you just never know. Stroman and Johnson both struggled as rookies, and they’ll need a big training camp to prove to the staff they are ready to take the next step. Alexander showed well late last season, but he’s still a work-in-progress.

There are a few corners who could be available when the Redskins pick in round one or two. Just how much do they value the position?


On the positive side, the team does have some nice pieces along the trenches to build around. Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses and Chase Roullier make up a nice quartet along the offensive line.

On the defensive side of the football, Jon Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are all young studs. Add in second year player Tim Settle, and you have a heck of a rotation.

The running back situation seems to be coming around, but some of that rides on the health of Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson. If both players can have a healthy 2019, they, along with Adrian Peterson, can make up one of the best running back groups in the NFC.

There does seem to be a lot of holes on this team, and most of them are centered around a lack of playmakers. Playmakers are needed to win football games in the NFL, and the Redskins may have some of the fewest impact players in the entire league.

Getting a franchise QB, some new wide receivers for him to throw to, and a tight end who can stretch the field, but also block, would be a good start for an anemic offense.

On defense, we need players who can get after the passer from the edge, and another linebacker with sideline-to-sideline ability. Another impact player in the secondary wouldn’t hurt either.

Certainly, all of these players can’t arrive in just one draft, so it’s going to take a while for the Redskins to acquire the necessary talent to compete at the highest level for a sustained amount of time.

Hopefully the 2019 NFL Draft can be a place the Skins can start building the necessary playmaking talent to begin to take the next steps...but believe me, it’s not going to be a fast or easy process. Unlike what Bruce Allen may want fans to believe, we really aren’t that close.